Of resilient runners, drift dodgers and moonscape marvels!!

KBell

New member
Hello All,

My son's military friend since grade school is back for two weeks and wanted to shoot an Iowa rooster!:) I shared we could help with that.

We traveled to Northwest Iowa today and put in our time on public and private ground. The good was sunshine and little to no wind. I actually got a sunburned face today.:D

We hit our first public piece at 8:20. Was exciting to leave the truck as 6 roosters flew into the cover from an adjacent field as we pulled up. I notice the snow drifted from the recent storm--six inches was two to three feet deep along the western and northern edges and ditto for the creek beds. Our first dilemma is the lack of suitable conditions for the dog. Sophie weighs in at 36 pounds but easily dropped into the undulating snow drifts in the field. She quickly reduced herself to following my tracks and I feared the public was her "enemy" today. We worked the field in a quiet and consistent manner. The birds were runners with several instances of sightings with the occasional drift dodger noted. We reached the western edge without a flush. Peering 70 yards into the snow covered been field revealed the seven roosters and 11 hens that were calling this field home. We plan to spread out and walk towards them. How do they know what just out of "shotgun range" is? This creates more runners as the birds choose to run and not fly. We leave them unscathed in the center of an adjacent "moonscaped" field.

Public parcel two is retaining suitable cover after all the recent snow. As we enter scene number one from above is repeated. Numerous tracks, plenty of runners and birds on the moonscape at the end. This time we have a blocker. Success still evades us as runners flush out and around the point of our blocker. I left to place Sophie in her box. This scenario is not suited to her set of skills. The boys report six roosters and 7 hens watch them retreat to their starting point.

Our next walk is a private slough with intermittent willow patches dispersed throughout. Sophie is once again out of the plan as the drifts and snow depths prove beneficial to the drift dodgers we encounter but not the dog. We push on and bird number one comes to my son from a field position unknown to him. A shot of prairie storm puts him in the bag and we begin to feel somewhat of a reprieve. Pushing on reveals more runners, drift dodgers and flyers to open fields. At the end of the slough rooster two sits too long next to a fencepost and falls to the shot for our military friend.

After lunch--did I mention it was slow going? We head to private parcel two which contains snake grass, switch grass and willow thickets. I quickly notice that the east and south sides do not contain heavy snow. Sophie is back in action on this one. We achieve four quick hen points and flushes. Next point is staunch and we ready for the flush. A rooster quickly falls to the shot of our military friend. Other birds are flushing--no worries I thought--our blocker is there. At his first shot the flushing birds drop short of his position and run wide into the open field. We have resilient runners again.:( We push on with three more hen points and flushes. We again exit the field with birds daring us to pursue them into the barren moonscape of white.

Our final field is private with a creek and several thickets of cover. The snow is high here on the west and north. Sophie receives another pardon. Our blocker is in place and we begin. I track three separate tracks to the first thicket. A rooster jumps and I hit him dropping a leg and turning him. The second shot also connects and he drops. Redemption quickly fades as I realize so many tracks exist at the drop point that I cannot locate his. I follow a track to a hen flush and search the area thoroughly for quite a time. Rooster four will not be in the bag but is still counted as it is my custom to do so. We press on have a multi-bird flush at the second thicket. Rooster number five falls to a high and head-on shot as multiple birds escape our blocker once again.

At the truck I share that my legs have endured enough for the day. After some ribbing, I remind the kids in the photo that their combined ages do not equal mine and that seems to calm the discussion. We call it at 2:47 with over 100 birds seen for the day. Our tally of roosters is 25 with 5 taken and the remainder being hens. That is a great sign for next season!

We worked hard for these birds today without much cooperation from them. Impressed by the numbers seen, their abilities to avoid us and the difficulties we encountered.

The lack of suitable "dog work" has me re-thinking my end of season plans.
 
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Ranger Rick

Member
It sounds like you had plenty of action. 5 roosters taken, plus all those birds sighted is still a good hunt. When I was a kid growing up in SE WI we had a good day if we shot 1-2. A really good day was 3. We had plenty of hunts without seeing even a hen. With bird numbers being as good as they are, you're at least seeing birds.

I think you've had a darned good season and it was good you're able to get the visitor a good hunt.

During my Iowa hunt this year, we finished our limit the second day hunting a creek. We pushed those wild flushing and running birds for 2 miles! Along the way a few stupid ones held and went into the vest. Then the donnybrook where we cornered a lot of them and completed our limit.

We were talking later that second day about how none of us are getting any younger. The year before I cried "uncle" late in the afternoon, with a hip really bothering me. As my dad always said "It's hell getting old".
 

KSBrittman

Active member
Way to go boys !!! I bet you didn't have to go to the Gym and work out after that hunt .

Glad to know Iowa birds are on an upward trend , is there a possibility that you will get a little more CRP in your area with the next sign up ?
 

nstric

New member
A good day indeed, and birds well earned!

My buddy and I had similar experience yesterday. We opted to head SW for the first time this season, hoping for less snow. We first hunted a 320 acre piece, rolling hills, bagging two roosters (one shot and another wounded found and retrieved) and counting 41 hens. The second piece was 240 acres of similar ground, the birds grouped under plum thickets and very wild. We got our remaining four, but really worked for them.

Our hardest and longest hunt this season by far. 9.95 miles walked according to my FitBit. That's hard in 6 inches of snow, repeatedly climbing hills. I'm not as young as I once was!

Like you, well over 100 birds seen. Well over. And loads of hens. Should set us up well for future years.
 

KBell

New member
You are correct RangerRick! I have had a fantastic season this year. I am glad to see the reports from Nstric and others about bird sightings. If we continue with a mild winter we should have some good nesting success next spring. Fingers crossed!

I am not aware of what we will have for CRP signups this next year. I can comment that I still await a program or state focus where lands here in Iowa less than suitable to farming practices are idled and put back to prairie and grasses.

The program I dream of would have a long-term focus and not subject to haying, drought recovery or other factors that undermine what the original purpose was to begin with.

I wanted to report current conditions for anyone wishing to venture out. With the weather forecast and forecasted temperatures until season's end, I predict difficulty finding areas for suitable dog work and conditions allowing for "normal" walking and flushing of birds. I tried to say it all in the naming of the original post.:)
 

Shawk

Member
As much as I'm tempted to stay under the covers in the morning over of a road trip... I may hit the road anyway for a short morning hunt before the games in the afternoon. Morning "feels like" temp predicted to be around 0*... yikes. :eek:

I love the size of your pooch... once the snow starts drifting, it's tough for any breed to get through this stuff. I guess someone out there somewhere always has a solution for most things.
 

KBell

New member
Thanks!

Thank you Shawk! You made me laugh this morning!:)

Not sure I could get Sophie to try those stilts. If you ventured out I hope you have a great day in the field. I have deer brats, deer loin, pheasant poppers and Angus steaks under preparation for the Rose Bowl game today. I am; like so many of you here, a passionate Hawkeye fan. A win today would be an excellent way to begin the new year! A limit for you wouldn't hurt either!:D Best of luck!
 

shorthairs4life

New member
Hello All,

My son's military friend since grade school is back for two weeks and wanted to shoot an Iowa rooster!:) I shared we could help with that.

We traveled to Northwest Iowa today and put in our time on public and private ground. The good was sunshine and little to no wind. I actually got a sunburned face today.:D

We hit our first public piece at 8:20. Was exciting to leave the truck as 6 roosters flew into the cover from an adjacent field as we pulled up. I notice the snow drifted from the recent storm--six inches was two to three feet deep along the western and northern edges and ditto for the creek beds. Our first dilemma is the lack of suitable conditions for the dog. Sophie weighs in at 36 pounds but easily dropped into the undulating snow drifts in the field. She quickly reduced herself to following my tracks and I feared the public was her "enemy" today. We worked the field in a quiet and consistent manner. The birds were runners with several instances of sightings with the occasional drift dodger noted. We reached the western edge without a flush. Peering 70 yards into the snow covered been field revealed the seven roosters and 11 hens that were calling this field home. We plan to spread out and walk towards them. How do they know what just out of "shotgun range" is? This creates more runners as the birds choose to run and not fly. We leave them unscathed in the center of an adjacent "moonscaped" field.

Public parcel two is retaining suitable cover after all the recent snow. As we enter scene number one from above is repeated. Numerous tracks, plenty of runners and birds on the moonscape at the end. This time we have a blocker. Success still evades us as runners flush out and around the point of our blocker. I left to place Sophie in her box. This scenario is not suited to her set of skills. The boys report six roosters and 7 hens watch them retreat to their starting point.

Our next walk is a private slough with intermittent willow patches dispersed throughout. Sophie is once again out of the plan as the drifts and snow depths prove beneficial to the drift dodgers we encounter but not the dog. We push on and bird number one comes to my son from a field position unknown to him. A shot of prairie storm puts him in the bag and we begin to feel somewhat of a reprieve. Pushing on reveals more runners, drift dodgers and flyers to open fields. At the end of the slough rooster two sits too long next to a fencepost and falls to the shot for our military friend.

After lunch--did I mention it was slow going? We head to private parcel two which contains snake grass, switch grass and willow thickets. I quickly notice that the east and south sides do not contain heavy snow. Sophie is back in action on this one. We achieve four quick hen points and flushes. Next point is staunch and we ready for the flush. A rooster quickly falls to the shot of our military friend. Other birds are flushing--no worries I thought--our blocker is there. At his first shot the flushing birds drop short of his position and run wide into the open field. We have resilient runners again.:( We push on with three more hen points and flushes. We again exit the field with birds daring us to pursue them into the barren moonscape of white.

Our final field is private with a creek and several thickets of cover. The snow is high here on the west and north. Sophie receives another pardon. Our blocker is in place and we begin. I track three separate tracks to the first thicket. A rooster jumps and I hit him dropping a leg and turning him. The second shot also connects and he drops. Redemption quickly fades as I realize so many tracks exist at the drop point that I cannot locate his. I follow a track to a hen flush and search the area thoroughly for quite a time. Rooster four will not be in the bag but is still counted as it is my custom to do so. We press on have a multi-bird flush at the second thicket. Rooster number five falls to a high and head-on shot as multiple birds escape our blocker once again.

At the truck I share that my legs have endured enough for the day. After some ribbing, I remind the kids in the photo that their combined ages do not equal mine and that seems to calm the discussion. We call it at 2:47 with over 100 birds seen for the day. Our tally of roosters is 25 with 5 taken and the remainder being hens. That is a great sign for next season!

We worked hard for these birds today without much cooperation from them. Impressed by the numbers seen, their abilities to avoid us and the difficulties we encountered.

The lack of suitable "dog work" has me re-thinking my end of season plans.

KBELL,

Kudos to you for counting the crippled birds towards your bag limit. I feel it's the gentleman's thing to do. I always do this and feel better about it.
 

KBell

New member
Thank you!

:laugh:Thank you shorthairs4life,

A lesson provided by Grandpa when I was 6 or 7. It was shared with me that they have a hard, short life and deserved my efforts to dutifully search for them when downed. I adopted and added the "lost bird" to the day's bag later on as I grew to understand Grandpa's intent. Like others on this forum, you and I do what they do when it comes to understanding and respecting the birds.:)

I placed grain in the grove at my home farm today for the 11 birds that are living there. I never "feel bad" when I am leaving the grove after doing this!:laugh:
 
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Hugo53

New member
Snow depth

Thinking of one last hunt this week. What is the actual snow depth in NW Iowa right now. Thanks to your sons friend for his service to our country.
 

TRazz63

New member
We hunted the Forest City area and it was tough going. Lots of snow. Maybe 8"+ then add in some drifts. Got one bird right away, after that we saw a ton of birds but too far out. After three hours we were wiped out. Dogs did great, but there sleeping now. I should take the hint!
 
The last week has definitely been rough on the pups! At least you got to spend some time with family and friends, good luck with the rest of the season.
 

KBell

New member
Thanks!

Hugo53, Trazz63 and Riverhunter55,

Thank you for the kind words for our service people. He is a marine and we are quite proud of him!:)

He harvested two birds that day and as he states--California has no birds--so he was very happy to have gone after Iowa roosters.

I believe hunting conditions are similar for most of the state. It is definitely advantage "roosters" right now.

I believe the great news is the carryover birds we are currently seeing. Let's hope for a mild winter the rest of the way for next season.:)
 
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